Chicago, Dec 20, 2008: The Mangalorean Konkan Christian Association (MKCA)/USA celebrated Christmas with all its festivities at St. Timothy’s Church, Chicago. This year’s Christmas celebration culminated with the celebration of fifth anniversary of MKCA. The “Two-in-one” celebration attracted a bigger crowd than usual, even though the weather in Chicago was not favorable for the travelers. Amid mounds of snow, slippery roads and freezing cold, the participants came to attend the celebration from the neighboring States of Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin.
The program started with celebration of Holy Mass in Konkani by Rev. Fr. Richie Vaz, Fr. Henry Sequeira, Fr. Peter Fernandes and Fr. Nathan. In a country where Roman Catholic priests have a very tight schedule for celebrating private Mass, attendees were delighted to see four priests concelebrating the Mass. Fr. Peter Fernandes in his homily highlighted the act of “Giving” through a little story of a mentally challenged boy. The Choir was headed by Dotty Rego with hymns in Konkani/English and the music was played by a young and enthusiastic musician Darrel Mascarenhas.
On the conclusion of Holy Mass, there was a short program honoring the founder members of MKCA with the Community Service Award from the U.S. President George W. Bush. Dr. Austin D’Souza Prabhu, called Rev.Fr. Felix Ackerman, Chief Guest of the program; Rev. Fr. Richie Vaz, Lawrence Mascarenhas, President and Stany D’Souza, Immediate Past President to the podium. Stany D’Souza introduced the members present that MKCA is proud to honor its pillars of the Association for their great volunteer service. He stated that in 2003, current President of the United States established a program of honoring individuals, groups and families of the community and various organizations nationwide, who have made their communities stronger and safer. He stated that, “I am very sure the stars of MKCA rightly deserve this prestigious award.” The award was presented by the Chief Guest Rev. Fr. Felix Ackerman who spent 51 years of his life in India serving the poor and downtrodden. In his speech Fr. Eckerman stated that he love India, the people of India, their culture, values and virtues. He is an ardent admirer of Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa and he feels that India is his home. In his powerful message, Fr. Ackerman further said, “Retain your rich culture and the family values you brought into this country and pass them on to your future generation.”
After the Mass the celebration continued at St. Timothy’s Church Hall. The second part of the celebration began with the welcome speech by MKCA president Lawrence Mascarenhas. In his speech Lawrence highlighted how MKCA was formed with sixteen like minded Mangalorean families under the leadership of the founder president Austin D’Souza Prabhu and the turbulent times the Association had gone through during the last five years. He said “We had good times and bad times, yet; we emerged as one MKCA family.” He thanked all the founder members especially the founder president Austin D’Souza Prabhu and the immediate past president Stan D’Souza for coming together and founding the MKCA and leading it to the fifth anniversary celebration. He also remembered late Rose D’Souza whom he called a “Founder of many founders of MKCA” for her moral support. (Obviously, he was referring that term because quite a few founder members came from her family.) He commended the great efforts of active members of the association in their staunch support in organizing the programs and myriad of other activities of the Association. He also requested everyone for their support in uniting Managaloreans scattered in and around Chicago.
This was followed by Happy Hour, where the participants enjoyed tasting the Mangalorean style appetizers and variety of drinks and cocktails. During the social hour, the program committee chairperson Queenie Mendonca conducted variety of games for the adults and children. A budding musician Darrel Mascarenhas joined DJ Anil D’Souza and the duos have blasted the live music with baila. The non-stop music and dance by young and adults raised a genuine concern for some of the organizers as to continuing the remaining part of the program. The dancing marathon continued until someone made a humble request to the musicians to take a break! It was truly the “Christmas spirit” on the dance floor to Darrel’s live baila music.
Then it was time to have some dinner before rocking again. The dinner was catered by The Indian Garden and arranged by the Vice-President Mark Rodrigues. No MKCA party was complete with the “Dukramaas” which was home made this time by Edna Mascarenhas and Mercy Concesso. During the dinner Lig Martis & Alphonce Mascarenhas entertained the guests with their singing in Konkani. It was time for Santa’s arrival. When he made his way to the floor, eagerly waiting children were surrounded by him. All the children told Santa that they have been good this year. Santa presented them with the gifts which were arranged by Terry D’Souza.
Vissia D’Souza, General Secretary, thanked all the members who contributed for this unique program and its grand success. She specially thanked all the priests present for celebrating the Holy Mass. As concluding remark all the members sang Mangalorean customary hymn “Laudathe Dominum.” All the members attended this program received a box of “Kuswar” (authentic Managalorean Christmas sweets) prepared by MKCA members.
Austin D’Souza Prabhu has wonderfully compeered the program. The program was a great success under the leadership of Queenie Mendonca, Chairperson, Organizing Committee.
Photos by: Vissia D’Souza, Mark Rodrigues & Anil D’Souza